Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
HVK Archives: Omak Apang cuts his hair

Omak Apang cuts his hair - Economic Times

Reshmi R Dasgupta ()
March 22, 1998

Title: Omak Apang cuts his hair
Author: Reshmi R Dasgupta
Publication: Economic Times
Date: March 22, 1998

After his first TV interview as the youngest minister in Prime
Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's government, his friends back home
in Arunachal Pradesh rang him up and asked the same question.
"Why did you cut your hair?"

Sitting in a flower-filled room in the chief minister's suite in
New Delhi's Arunachal Bhavan, young Apang looked a trifle bashful
as he recounted his reply. "I had to look proper, right?" Indeed,
that he did.

At the swearing-in ceremony in the grand forecourt of Rashtrapati
Bhavan on Thursday he stood out amid the new-look ministry
because of his extreme youth formal creme band gala
notwithstanding. The next day, more relaxed in his father,
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Gegong Apang's office, 27-year-
old Omak looked not unlike a head boy in a blue blazer and tie,
newly-shorn hair in place.

Also not unlike a head boy, there was an air of responsibility
that added a touch of solemnity to his cherubic features. "I was
doing work among my people in Arunachal when they asked me to be
the consensus candidate for this election. I agreed, and since
then I'm on the run. I haven't had time to even catch my breath!
Now I have to live up to their expectation."

And as he thinks back on his recent leap from rural development
to politics, a mischievous look crosses his face. "I really had
,em (his rivals) on the run too during the campaign!" Apang says
impishly. "You know, I trekked 100 km a day, from village to

Tough going? Not for this young man, who had dreams of becoming a
footballer before Arunachal beckoned him back from the salubrious
environs of Delhi University's Hindu College where he obtained a
degree in sociology. "But mostly I played football, though!" he

His combination of sport and sociology - and perhaps even his
schooling in the Ramakrishna Mission in Itanagar - obviously
shaped a rather different young man. With his own set of ideas.
"In Arunachal, I was into social engineering. And I feel sport
plays a really big role. I encouraged people to play games even
company staff and government employees. It really builds team

Now that Vajpayee has invested him with the tourism portfolio as
a minister of state - rather than the predicted North East
affairs ministry this young man has a lot to get his teeth into.
And not just setting up Disneyworld so that young parents can
leave their children there and get a breather!

The door opens and his wife Audrey smiles and rushes past laden
with a tub full of clothes. "My wife's a doctor, but today she's
a dhobi," he quips and suddenly that naive TV statement from the
new tourism minister is put in perspective. He's also a young
parent with an infant daughter soon to enter that exhausting
stage called toddlerhood!

A pragmatist, clearly. Bringing the North East to the rest of
India, then, will definitely be on his agenda, given the
refreshingly upbeat picture he paints of the mysterious
Northeastern frontier. "There's so much to admire there, but
people here in Delhi, for instance, know so little about our part
of India," he begins and then warms to his subject.

"People there are more nationalistic than anywhere else. Ask any
child where is Mahe or Pondicherry, and he will tell you. He'll
know all about his own country" Apang asserts robustly as he puts
forth his theory about the rural periphery's yearning for India
at a time when a deracinated urban youth is looking to greener
pastures overseas.

"How many kids have that feeling and interest here?" he asks,
with a glance at the window with its view of New Delhi's elite
Diplomatic Enclave area. "They all say: "Arre, idhar India mein
kya rakha hai?" But the spirit of India is very much alive in the
North East. "He then adds a triumphant rider: "After all,
remember the North East was pumping oil in Digboi and trading
with Tibet, Myanmar and other countries when north India was
still wilderness!

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements